Royal Commission report day 10 page 11

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The Royal Commission evidence for 7/4/1881

(full text transcription)

(see also introduction to day 10)

Sup John Sadleir giving evidence

1871 Did they come from the murderers' own information?— Yes, through their family. I could trace it to that, and it came partly through Aaron Sherritt.

1872 They might have met somebody after the murders and told about it, as they did tell about how Kennedy died, otherwise it could not be known?— The information did not come in before McIntyre’s statement.

1873 Was this man a common traveller along the road?— Yes, and he has never been traced. He was a stranger to my informant who gave the information, and it was said in an indifferent sort of way. The tracks from the One-mile Creek where they crossed into the Warby Ranges were followed up by Mr. Brooke Smith and some other police, and the horses found—the police horses—first one and then another.

1874 What was the name of the constable next in command under Mr. Brooke Smith?— Probably Senior-constable Johnson.

1875 It has been .stated in evidence that it was he?— I know be was about there, and he was very likely man. On the 12th November, one of the railway officials described the men as having crossed the line at Glenrowan and ridden in towards the Warby Ranges , riding from Greta to the Warby side met Mr. Nicolson at Glenrowan that morning the 12th. We had one or two trackers with us. The track were perfectly plain, and the trackers took us to the foot of the ranges without any trouble. It will be perhaps a mile or two altogether where the tracks were still visible. Those trackers took us clean away from them; they left the tracks. Of course, we were entirely in their hands, but I am speaking now of the judgment formed afterwards. They took us off those tracks and took us to a swampy ground, when there were thousands of tracks, where all the cattle of the neighborhood came to water, and we could not get the trackers back again to take up the tracks where they left them. I am perfectly satisfied that they were simply misleading us.(JJK)

1876 Who, the trackers?— Yes.

1877 The black trackers?— Yes. They were civilized blacks, some Coranderrk men. The grass was probably two feet long. We were in their hands. We were not awake to what I afterwards supposed to be their tricks. They just took us in the tracks into within a short distance of cover, where an ambush might be, and led us clean away from that.

1878 Do you mean to lead the Commission to suppose that they did not care to go into danger?— Certainly, most assuredly not, and I do not blame them. It is just what you would expect.

1879 From fear?— From cunning and fear.

1880 Were they actuated by the spirit of fear or sympathy?— They were actuated by the spirit of self-preservation, because they knew they would be the first to be shot. In fact, it was too much to ask them to lead you into a place where an ambush might be and ask them to go first. Our police could not go first because they would interfere with the tracks and obliterate everything, but those men would not show us—would not follow the tracks any further. We then had to strike out for ourselves independently of the blacks, and while waiting for luncheon a small party under Sergeant Steele, through some mistake of orders, got out of sight, and we could not pick them up again. I heard it reported afterwards as coming from Ned Kelly, that he saw us, and could have shot Mr. Nicolson and myself if he liked, of which I do not believe one word; but he must have heard we were there, for he described that we sat in a 1ittle open place where there was water; and he stated he could have shot us, that he saw the brands on the horses—recognized different men in the party. With a good party of blacks I think we would have had a very fair show. There were several search parties still going out without information. We always hoped against hope; and with many of them Mr. Nicolson himself went out. I had not quite recovered myself from rheumatic fever, and my doctor—Dr. Reynolds—told me that I dare not go out. This continued up to the beginning of December.

1881 When you said you dared not go out, do you mean you could not camp out in damp places?— Yes, not except at the risk of my life.

1882 It did not prevent your doing your ordinary duty?— No. I was told I was not fit for the other, but I found afterwards I was. While the search parties were out we had one or two very good agents at work. I am not at liberty to make public who they were, or indicate them in any way. I will put the paper before the Commission.

1883 You had one agent, the “diseased stock” man?— I would rather not say anything about that man.

1884 He has been referred to over and over again, and the evidence has been made public, so that it cannot matter?— The same gentleman appealed to me last evening to stop any further reference. I did not know that person at that time. We had one or two agents employed.

1885 You stated in your evidence just now that you entered the service, I think, in 1852?— Yes.

1886 Is it the fact that you and Mr. Nicolson were entering the same day?— I am not aware of it......

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